The questionnaire was distributed to 2900 Saudis. In total, 2622 questionnaires were completed, returned, and included in the data analysis, corresponding to a response rate of 90.4%. There was a diverse range of age of respondents; the mean age of respondents was 27.8years (age range, 15–70years; SD, 9.7). There was an equal gender split in respondents group (50% were men, 1301/1601). The socio-demographic records of the study population are depicted in Table 1.
Little is known about public awareness and behaviors regarding sun exposure and protection measures among Saudi people. To our understanding and after a broad literature review, only one study was found on this topic that was conducted in one province of Saudi Arabia. Different regions of Saudi Arabia have diverse climate conditions, latitude and socio-cultural background. The climate of Saudi Arabia has distinct high temperatures during the day and low temperatures in nighttime. Most of the country follows the prototype of the desert climate, excluding southwest. From May to September, daytime temperatures reach 45°C or higher throughout the country, with somewhat cooler coastal temperatures. The south has moderate temperatures, which can go as low as 10°C during the summer in the mountains of Sarawat in Asir.
In our clinical dermatology practice, we noticed that many sun related skin disorders (e.g., sunburn) are more frequent in the winter because weather in the summer harmine hydrochloride is excessively hot and people are more prone to involve in recreational activities during winter season. This study has indicated a high sun exposure rate among respondents, with a mean of weekly sun exposure extent of 19.13h (SD, 14.25). Males and the younger people were related with more sun exposure (p<0.0001). Sixty-six percent of our study respondents reported that they generally spend extra time outdoors during winter compared to summer. Fifty-five percent demonstrated awareness of the link between sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer, which is similar to the previous study carried out in Qassim Province (Al Robaee, 2010). This level of knowledge is considered to be low compared to analogous studies carried out in western communities. For example, the linkage between skin cancer and sun exposure was made by around 90% of study participants in Australia, 85% in Canada, 92% in United States, and 92.5% in Malta (Aquilina et al., 2004). Consistent with prior research in this area, men gender and people with low educational levels had poorer knowledge. The outcome of this study has shown that women were more likely to be familiar with about the sun’s detrimental effects on the skin and were more apt to take the protective measures, including sunscreen application. However, no gender distinction was noted in the use of protective clothing. The finding that women use sunscreen more often than men has been reported by a good number of studies on this subject matter (Al Robaee, 2010; Aquilina et al., 2004; Paul et al., 2003; Wesson and Silverberg, 2003; Thieden et al., 2004). Nikolaou et al. (2009) found that sunglasses was the most commonly used sun-protection measure in Mediterranean inhabitants (83.4%), while wearing protective clothes was not as much of popular (57.8%). They also found that sunscreen was used by the huge majority of their study group (77.1%). As we have shown, protective clothes were the most commonly used sun protection measure in Saudi Arabia, as 95% of respondents reported wearing long-sleeved clothes, 90% of them reported wearing a head cover (Hijab for women or Ghotra for men), and 93% of women respondents reported using a face cover (veil) during outdoor activities. This finding might be because the Saudi population has certain customs and traditions related to clothes; however, the sun protection effectiveness of these clothes is not well-known. The use of UV-blocking fabrics can provide tremendous protection against the hazards of sunlight, especially for the garments manufactured and labeled as UV-protective clothing (Gambichler et al., 2010). We feel that UV shielding clothes will be a very successful sun protective measure in our community if future educational programs regarding this subject and concern can be developed. Regardless of the reasonably good knowledge and familiarity among our study respondents that exposure to sun predisposes individuals to many skin disorders, including sunburn and skin cancer, the rate of sunscreen awareness was pretty low.